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Giants in the Earth

O.E. Rölvaag

Book I, Chapter II—"Home-Founding"

Book I, Chapter I—"Toward the Sunset"

Book I, Chapter II—"Home-Founding", page 2

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Summary

As Hans Olsa builds his sod house, he stops every now and then to look for Per Hansa's caravan on the horizon. He worries that Per may have gotten lost. Nearby, other settlers are building their houses. Hans, his wife, Sorine, and daughter, Sofie—along with their neighbors Syvert Tonseten and his wife Kjersti, and two American-born bachelor brothers, Henry and Sam Solum—have formed a small Norwegian-American settlement on the prairie. The pioneers traveled together with the Hansas from Minnesota to their destination along Spring Creek. They now all wait anxiously for the Hansas to arrive.

Sorine asks her husband Hans if he has seen Per Hansa's caravan, and she can tell that her husband is nervous about the fact that the Hansas have not arrived yet. She suggests that Hans go look for them, but he tells her that he would not know where to look. Suddenly, Tonseten arrives and tells Hans and Sorine that he has spotted the Hansas in the distance. They all make preparations to greet Per and Beret.

When the Hansas finally arrive, everyone welcomes them with open arms. Everyone seems to be in good spirits except Beret. Per and Beret's reactions to the land differ dramatically. Per compares the prairies to the fertile lands of Egypt, while Beret is unimpressed by the land. In fact, she is appalled by how immense and desolate the place looks. Above all, she is afraid of the fact that there is nothing to hide behind. Hans tells Per that he has already set aside a section of land for Per; the two friends will be neighbors. Sorine prepares a big meal for everyone, and the group celebrates the Hansas' arrival.

Per wants to go look at his land, and Hans tells Per to go to Sioux Falls as soon as possible to fill out a claim to the land. Per, Tonseten, and Hans look at Per's land, and they discover an Indian grave on it. The next day, Per and the Solum boys go to Sioux Falls to file his claim. The date on the claim is June 6, 1873.

Meanwhile, Beret and her children make preparations for their home while Per is gone. Beret feels lonely and uneasy about the land. She recalls the trip to America, how they left Norway, briefly settled in Quebec, and then pushed westward until they finally reached their destination. The children interrupt her reverie by telling her that they have found the Indian grave. Beret feels even more frightened about the land than before.

Per returns from Sioux Falls. He is wrapped up with plans for building a house and plowing the land, and he thinks that everything seems like a fairy tale. He decides to plant some potatoes that he bought in Sioux Falls right away. Beret tries to tell Per about her fears, but she feels that she cannot get through to him. He wants to do everything possible to make his wife feel comfortable, as he knows she is going to have another baby soon.

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